Upwork and Fiverr are two cornerstones of the emerging gig economy, and as expected, each comes with its own strengths and weaknesses. In this article, we look at both to help you find out which one might be a better fit for you as a freelancer or business owner!
You’ve probably met someone who proudly said that they worked from home. If you’re not very knowledgeable in the world of freelancing, you might be mistaken in thinking that this is some sort of scam. Never leave the comfort of your own home and get paid at the same time? Ludicrous, right?
Well, up until a decade ago, a lot of people shared this sentiment. Freelancing was a foreign concept that most people didn’t understand. Either you were outsourcing, or your employees were regularly working from the company’s offices. But, somewhere in the mid-2000s, this all changed with the rise of freelance websites. Suddenly, you were able to handpick and hire professionals from anywhere in the world, according to your needs. And this left an inherent mark on how international business was done.
So, where does one find these freelancing jobs, how easy is it to find them, and how does it all work? In today’s text, we’ll be making an in-depth comparison of the two most popular freelancing websites, Upwork vs. Fiverr.
When it comes to registering an account for companies or individuals looking to offer jobs on Upwork, there are several different types of profiles that can be registered.
The first is the Upwork Basic Plan, which doesn’t require any payment. The only money that the client pays is the rate agreed upon with the freelancer, and a processing fee of 3% for every project.
The second option is registering an Upwork Plus profile. This will cost you $49.99 a month, and you get everything from the Basic Plan as well as things such as:
This sort of plan is great if you’re a small-to-medium enterprise and are starting to gain traction and hire more and more people via Upwork.
Upwork Business is the 3rd and most exclusive option at the steep price of $849 a month. This plan is best suited for companies that have shifted almost entirely towards remote working and want to hire dedicated employees directly through the platform. With this plan, Upwork will take care of nearly everything for you. Starting from any HR or Payroll needs to administrative and legal details, as well as all of the benefits of the Upwork Plus plan.
Upwork allows you to customize the solution to whatever your needs may be, whether that’s project-based or not. An important thing to note about Upwork Business is that it charges a 10% service fee on all payments to freelancers.
A special mention goes out to Upwork Enterprise, which is a solution that big companies such as Airbnb and Microsoft use. This is a completely customizable business plan, and the cost varies in accordance with the plan itself.
If you’re a business looking to hire through Upwork, the process is very straightforward. First, make a post about what the job is about and what sort of skills you’re looking for. After you’ve entered the details, using data science, Upwork will match you with the top freelancers that match your job description. After reviewing their profiles, you can either send invites to individuals or wait for bids from freelancers.
Once you’re happy with your profile selection, you can schedule a chat or a video call (through Upwork) with the freelancers of your choice. If you both agree upon the timeframe and financial details, a contract is created between the two sides, and the work can commence.
A good tip is to seek the top-rated freelancers who have a high Job Success Score (JSS). This is an efficient way of filtering for individuals who have a very high job success rate on Upwork. You will be able to recognize these individuals by their JSS badge on their profiles.
A prerequisite to getting this badge is to have a job success rate of over 90%, and annual earnings of at least $1000. And if all this isn’t enough for you, you can further your vetting process by reviewing the cover letters that get sent along with bids.
There is one more badge that freelancers can get on Upwork, called Rising Talent. Upwork automatically assigns this badge to individuals, which it deems to have excellent potential judging by the information provided on their profile. This includes any work that they’ve done in the past outside of the platform.
Disputes are one of those things that nobody likes talking about, but unfortunately, sometimes happen. Though Upwork has gone above and beyond to create a framework for solving client-freelancer disputes. Because there’s a vast amount of people on the platform, Upwork has categorized its dispute claims in several different sectors.
If you’d like to request a refund from a freelancer, you can contact Upwork within 180 days of the payment. If you feel like a freelancer billed you for more time than they worked, you can file a dispute within five days of the billing period.
If there are remaining funds in escrow that you no longer need for a project, you can request an escrow refund. If, however, you would like to continue with the contract and not release the entirety of the escrowed funds, you can opt to release a partial milestone payment. Whatever funds are left can be used towards the next milestone.
Last but not least, if a freelancer becomes unresponsive for a longer period of time, Upwork suggests to pause the contract and wait for a response.In some cases, you can reach out to Upwork, and they’ll contact the individual on your behalf. Needless to say, if the client becomes unresponsive, a freelancer can take the same course of action.
We previously covered the work diary from the freelancer’s perspective, so now, let’s see what’s in it for the client. First of all, it’s important to note that the work diary is entirely optional. Though it is used in a lot of cases for transparency reasons, both sides must agree to it during the contract negotiations.
Something that shouldn’t be overlooked when talking about the Work Diary is the different types of billing segments that can occur during a job. Certain job activities require offline work (Manual Time), which the client and freelancer can agree to add to the work. The billing segments are color-coded inside the Work Diary and can be:
Green – Time that is tracked automatically Yellow – Manual Time Red – Time that is over the weekly limit
If the freelancer has gone over the weekly limit, they should discuss the proper course of action with the client.
Businesses on Fiverr are also referred to as buyers because they’re the ones that are buying a certain service. If you’re a business and want to join Fiverr, it’s a very straightforward process. Register a buyer profile, confirm your email, and you’re good to go. Once you’ve done this, you can start searching for sellers (freelancers).
In terms of the actual search, the platform is categorized into 12 groups. Each category has its own subcategory to choose from. You can use their predefined categories, or you can use Fiverr’s search function. For example, searching for graphic design will give you thousands of results, after which you can use the filter per your requirements.
Fiverr has great filters set in place, and you can narrow down your search to your exact needs. Apart from the ones mentioned above, the site also allows you to filter by age, gender, language, accent, delivery time, location, price, and more. This is where the platform allows you to get creative with your search. It must be said that while Upwork also has similar filters in place, they’re not nearly as extensive as Fiverr’s.
As we mentioned in our seller’s section, Fiverr allows clients to hire freelancers for the job they need, not the other way around. A lot of companies really appreciate this as it enables them to be in absolute control over who they hire. Once you’ve searched for the job you need work done in, you’ll be able to see all the freelancers who offer gigs in that particular area.
Along with a short, but precise description of the gig (e.g., I will create captivating social media graphics for you), you’ll be able to see how much it will cost you, the freelancer’s star rating as well as tier. After you’ve chosen which seller and gig package to go with, click the hire button, and send a message along with any specifications you’d like.
There’s a reason why a lot of companies and individuals use Fiverr, especially for small & cheap jobs. This is because the platform takes a much lower fee. Any gig that’s up to $20, Fiverr will only take a $1 processing fee. Any if the price exceeds the $20 mark, Fiverr will only charge you 5% of the total amount. Given these conditions, it’s no wonder that more and more companies are shifting towards Fiverr for their hiring purposes.
Previously we covered how disputes on Fiverr work from the seller’s side, but now let’s go over how the process goes from the buyer’s perspective. The company primarily encourages both parties to visit the resolution center and try and find a solution to the dispute there. Only if that doesn’t work should you take upon contacting customer support.
Start by extending the delivery time to ensure that the quality of work is up to the expected standards. Message the freelancer with a reason as to why you’d like to extend the delivery time and find common ground on the timeframe.
If you’re worried about a part of the work or have additional questions as to how its progressing, you can always message the freelancer and ask them for a progress update. The seller will then be able to explain how far along the process they are, and when you can expect the final product.
If none of this yields any results, message the seller and ask him to cancel the order. It goes without saying that if you’ve decided to do this, you need to give the freelancer a valid reason for your cancelation. They then have to respond within 48 hours, either accepting or declining your request.
With its headquarters in Santa Clara, California, Upwork is a company that offers freelancing services to both freelancers and businesses. It was founded in 2015 as a result of the merger between Elance and O-desk.There are currently over 15 million freelancers and 5 million clients on the platform, making it the largest freelancing website in the world. Given the company’s rapid growth, you wouldn’t be wrong in assuming that Upwork has become synonymous with the word freelance. So, what makes this platform so unique?
Well, to tell you the entire story, we must analyze the platform from both the freelancers’ and clients’ perspectives. To start off, let’s see how Upwork works for freelancers.
As I mentioned previously, Upwork’s growth has skyrocketed in the past half-decade. Due to its popularity, the site has become the number one destination for freelancers around the world. But before we continue, there’s something important to be said. Upwork is very competitive. The company states that they get 10.000 new registrations every single day. Now, if those numbers are to believed, that would mean that the website gets over 3 million freelancer sign-ups annually.
Note how I mentioned there are 10.000 new registrations each day. I stress that part because signing up for Upwork is different from all the other platforms. Imagine the chaos that would ensue if they allowed millions of people on the freelancing platform. That’s why the site has a rigorous vetting process for who it lets in. Once you’ve registered an account, Upwork’s algorithm crosschecks your skills vs. the number of freelancers for that particular category. It then either accepts or declines your registration within 24 hours.
Once you’ve been accepted, the most common problem new freelancers have is actually finding a job. Unlike Fiverr, freelancers have to bid for jobs on Upwork. Luckily, the website has utilized data science to show you the best jobs in accordance with your skill sets. Still, given the competitiveness, it can be quite frustrating at the beginning.
When it comes to long-term earning potential, the California-based company is the winner in the Upwork vs. Fiverr battle. You can charge any amount for your services, either per hour or project. The only limitation is that the amount has to be a minimum of $3 an hour or $5 per project. Though, when it comes to payment, most freelancers have an hourly rate.
As we mentioned earlier, Upwork operates on bids. Every month you are provided with 60 connect tokens that you can use to bid on jobs. An upside is that you only get charged one token per client. This means that if you work with the same client in the future, you won’t have to spend new connect tokens. Once you’ve sent a job proposal overview and set a price, it’s up to the client to either accept, decline, or try and renegotiate.
One of the biggest downsides to using Upwork as a freelancer is all the accompanying fees. For example, every connection sent costs $0.15. The platform has different fees, depending on how much you’ve earned with the specific client. The longer you work for a client, the more Upwork rewards you by taking a smaller cut of your money. The rates are as following:
Note that these rates are calculated per client and not per the total amount earned. You may have over $10.000 earned in total, but if you’re working with a client for the first time, Upwork will still take a 20% cut.
Upwork definitely has the upper hand when it comes to tracking work. The company has an external software called Work Diary, which the freelancer downloads and runs every time they’re working.
What the diary does is it tracks how many hours of work you’ve done effectively. It does this by monitoring the total number of mouse clicks, scroll actions, and keystrokes per segment. Most importantly, it takes a snapshot of your screen every 10 minutes.
With this, the freelancer will only get paid for the exact number of hours worked, and the client has a clear overview of what work has been done. The Work Diary can be an excellent way to avoid any further disputes that may arise regarding the job done.
Something I haven’t mentioned so far is the dispute system. It’s a system set in place to mediate any possible disagreements between the freelancer and client. In my experience, both sides usually avoid using the system, rather opting to talk out any disagreement they might have. This is because neither side wants to risk getting a bad rating. A disagreement over $20 worth of work may cost both sides thousands of dollars in the long run.
As long as you work per the agreed guidelines with the client, and use the Work Diary, the chances of a dispute claim are minimal.
An important thing to know about when starting on the site is contracts. The client pre-funds the payment, and the freelancer gets paid five days after each contract milestone is finished. Once the entire project is completed, the client must approve the work done within a maximum of 14 days. If the client does not give their approval within this period, the credit will automatically transfer to the freelancer’s account.
Upwork uses the Escrow payment processing system, which guarantees that all payments made are 100% secure. So, rest assured that neither side should worry about any potential payment problems.
Fiverr was founded in 2010 as an Israeli startup by Micha Kaufman and Shai Wininger. Their idea was to make a platform where both clients and freelancers could buy and offer a variety of digital services. All this for no less than $5. Hence the name – Fiverr.
At its early stages, freelancing was still a very new thing, and Fiverr positioned itself in a peculiar place on the market. Many people thought it was just a platform where you could find quick, cheap labor, and nothing more. Eventually, people looked past the name, and Fiverr grew massively.
Two years after it was established, it hosted 1.3 million gigs (projects) per month. That same year, the website ranked among the top 100 most popular websites in the United States, and top 200 in the world.
When it comes to registering an account, the main difference between Upwork vs. Fiverr is that the latter doesn’t have such a comprehensive screening process when it comes to joining the platform. To join Fiverr, all you have to do is register an account (either through email or social media), and you’re set to start.
Once you’ve created an account (seller profile), start by adding your skillset and offerings to your profile. While Upwork usually makes you focus on a specific industry and specialize in it, Fiverr allows you to add a wide variety of skills. You can add three different packages for each gig that you’re offering. Think of them as basic, pro, and premium plans. As you go for the more advanced plans, you get a more comprehensive package – which will, in turn, cost more.
Starting out on Fiverr can be difficult, but for different reasons than on Upwork. Because there is almost no vetting process, the competition is very high. This means that until you’ve gained traction and proved yourself within the Fiverr community, it can be hard to land jobs.
Speaking of landing jobs, there is a critical difference between the two platforms as to how a freelancer finds a job. While on Upwork, freelancers are encouraged to bid for projects, on Fiverr, there is no such option.
Once you’ve fully completed your profile, the client is the one that chooses whether to hire you for the gig or not. So, instead of actively selling your gig, you have to wait for a buyer to hire you. So, to maximize your success, it is of utmost importance to create the most comprehensive profile possible.
So, what happens once you get hired? Well, after finishing the job, you send it over to the client for review. If they like it, they’ll approve your gig right away. The client can ask for an edit of the work if they’re not 100% happy with the outcome, but the freelancer may also charge additionally for a revision. These things are usually mutually agreed upon between the two sides.
Once you’ve finished the job and both sides are happy, Fiverr automatically transfers the amount to your account. In terms of fees, the only charge that the platform takes is a flat 20% fee on every single transaction. Meaning if you’ve finished a gig worth $200, you’ll only get paid $160.
So, the critical difference here is that unlike Upwork, Fiverr does not include the option of hourly rates. The platform also takes a flat 20% fee for any job that you do, regardless of how long you’ve been on the platform and how much money you’ve earned.
Now, if you remember, earlier in the text, I said that Upwork was a better platform when it comes to long-term earning potential. This is primarily due to three things.
The first one is another difference in the Upwork vs. Fiverr discussion. The latter is seen (and to some extent rightly so) as a platform where you can find a quick hire for a small project. Now, this doesn’t mean that you can’t make a living off of the platform or that it’s solely composed of small transactions. But, a lot of the time, this is the case. So, if you’re planning on freelancing as a long-term profession, this is something you should carefully consider.
Additionally, it can take quite a long time to build a good portfolio on Fiverr. This is because, in general, it’s easier to find work on Upwork rather than on Fiverr. The fact that you can apply for jobs makes it much easier to find new work. On Fiverr, until you’ve properly built up your profile, it can be tough to find a gig.
Third and foremost, sometimes it’s as simple as looking at things such as transaction fees. Upwork rewards you the longer you work for individual clients by lowering the transaction fees. Fiverr, on the other hand, doesn’t have this.
Now, this doesn’t mean that Fiverr is a bad platform for freelancing. On the contrary. The latest statistics that are available show us that the total value of all Fiverr transactions in 2018 was nearly $300 million. While we don’t have any stats for 2019, I wouldn’t be surprised if the number had gone up to the $500 million ballpark figure. The point I’m making here is that with enough determination and hard work, you can make a lot of money on Fiverr.
One of Fiverr’s many great features is that once the order is marked as complete, it gives the buyer a 7-day window to leave a tip. In order to prevent fraud, there are some limitations when doing this. The minimum amount that you can tip is $5. For orders above $25, the tip can be up to $25. For any order above this price, the tip can be up to 100% of the price of the order.
Note that tips are also susceptible to a 20% fee.
When you start off and first register your profile, your profile is automatically labeled as a New Seller. At this point, you need to start grinding and get as many gigs as possible to progress to the next level. You get some basic benefits such as seven active gigs at a time, and an earning clearance of 14 days.
Once you’ve been on the platform for at least 60 days, Fiverr looks back at your performance from the day you started and can move you up to a Level One Seller. This is an automatic process, and you need to tick several boxes for your profile to get upgraded.
Some of these include completing ten individual orders, earning at least $400, maintaining a rating of at least 4.7, and a response and completion rate of at least 90%. Once you’re a Level One Seller, you start getting benefits such as being able to have ten active gigs, as well as eligibility to be featured at promotional listings.
After completing 120 days on Fiverr, you are now eligible to become a Level Two Seller. To get this profile upgrade, you need to have completed at least 50 individual orders and earned at least $2000. The rest of the requirements are the same as Level One. The benefits are all of the ones that you previously had as well as 20 active gigs and access to priority customer support.
The next upgrade is a huge leap. Once you pass the Level Two Seller tier, your profile joins an elite group of freelancers called Top Rated Sellers. The difference for this level is that unlike all the previous ones, this is a manual process. Once you’ve completed 180 days as an active seller on Fiverr, you can apply to join the Top Rated tier.
From there, someone from the platform’s team will either confirm or deny your entry into the top tier. The prerequisites are that you complete at least 100 individual orders, earn at least $20.000, as well as all of the other requirements we mentioned above.
The advantages of being a Top Rated Seller are vastly better than the ones in the first three tiers. They include everything we mentioned so far as well as 30 Active Gigs, VIP Customer Support, 7 Day Earning Clearance, and many other benefits.
Last but not least, there is a special category that we haven’t mentioned yet. That is the Fiverr Pro Seller category. It doesn’t rank with any of the other four tiers; instead, it works as a separate entity.
To quote Fiverr themselves: “Fiverr business buyers are constantly on the lookout for highly professional services. Fiverr Pro aims to meet those needs by offering high-quality, easy to find, verified professional sellers.”
So, what does being a Fiverr Pro really stand for? Simply put, it’s when a freelancer has an exceptional offer that he’d like to put as a separate, highly sought out gig. Technically, you could be a Level One Seller and get accepted into Fiverr Pro. For example, if you have ten years’ experience as a full stack developer and have just joined Fiverr, then you could potentially become a pro.
Fiverr Pro is where the company has an extensive vetting process - not everyone can join this specialized program. During the vetting, Fiverr will ask about your professional background, higher education, portfolio of previous work, examples of notable projects, etc. Now you may be wondering, what’s the difference between a regular Fiverr gig and a Fiverr Pro gig?
Well, the former starts at $5 minimum per gig, while the latter starts at $100. And reading other peoples’ experience, buyers are more than happy to pay much more than that for the quality service that Fiverr Pro sellers offer.
Once you’ve joined the pro tier, you’ll have the option to make custom pro gigs, and each of those will be labeled with a pro badge. Buyers also have the option to filter for people with pro badges. This is why Fiverr Pro gives you a huge competitive edge over all of the other freelancers on the site.
Unlike Upwork, Fiverr is much more straightforward about how the work is done, tracked, and paid for. There is no such thing as a work diary to track the work done. This is because, in most cases, all of the details are agreed upon before the work has even started.
Now, there are situations where the buyer wants to redo a part of the job or needs some additional work done. This is agreed via the messaging function of the platform once the gig is sent for review. But, this is where the platform truly shines. All of the gig details are laid out on the seller’s profile.
Disputes Disputes are handled slightly differently on this freelancing platform. Let’s start by saying that as a freelancer, you shouldn’t worry about not getting paid. Once you’ve submitted your work and the client accepts it, the money is transferred to your account. However, in situations where the client is unhappy with the work done, here are some of the things Fiverr encourages you to do.
• If the client requests additional work done outside of the initial agreement, you can request a custom extra to be added to the gig. Select what you would like to add and explain why.
• If the buyer isn’t happy with the work done, you can offer multiple revisions until the client is satisfied with how the work looks.
A thing that you can also do as a freelancer is to request an extension of the delivery date, explain why, and how big of an extension you’d like. Alas, if all other solutions fail, the last thing a seller can do is ask the buyer to cancel their order. After you choose one of the dispute solutions, the seller has 48 hours to accept or decline the proposal.
So, after an in-depth analysis of both platforms, and how the two sides of the freelancing spectrum work, the final question stands. Who is the winner in our analysis of Upwork vs. Fiverr? Well, there is no outright winner.
If you’re just starting out and have no prior experience freelancing, then you might want to consider Fiverr. It’s a lot more newbie-friendly and incentivizes you to work as much as possible. Unlike Upwork, where it rewards you for building long-lasting relationships with individual clients, Fiverr only cares about your overall work history.
If you’re a more seasoned professional, you should try joining Upwork, especially if you already have an account. If you don’t, however, don’t be discouraged if you don’t get accepted at your first try.
There’s a reason why it’s the most popular freelancing website in the world. While the competition may be high, the good thing about Upwork is that you are in charge of your fate. What I mean by this is that the more job proposals you send, the more likely it is you’ll get hired.
When it comes to businesses looking to hire freelancers, both websites have their positives and negatives. It all depends on the type and longevity of the project. If you’re looking for someone to do a small short-term task, then Fiverr should probably be your choice.
If, however, you have multiple long-term projects, Upwork is perhaps your best bet. Depending on the size of your business and its needs, you may want to look into Upwork’s business plans. Though the better the package, the steeper the price.
And let’s not forget the beautiful feature that is Fiverr Pro. It’s an excellent way to find a large talent pool of top-notch professionals who are able to do the perfect job for any project that you may need. No matter the complexity, you can rest assured that Fiverr Pro’s will always be on top of the task.
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